Color Spotlight: Phthalo Blue Red Shade (PB15:6)

Is Phthalo Blue Red Shade actually red-toned, neutral, or still green-toned but simply less so than its cousin Phthalo Blue Green Shade (PB15:3)? I’ve heard all opinions, and I suppose it’s a judgment call. (Is the color blue you see the same as the color blue I see?) My opinion is that it is a … Read more

Desert Palette Revisited

My Desert Palette, which I used to paint my Vegas travel sketches and post-travel paintings, contained 26 carefully chosen colors. So which ones did I end up using the most? And which could I have left behind? Most Valuable Colors These were the colors I found myself reaching for again and again: Also Good Liabilities … Read more

Travel Sketches: Las Vegas/Mojave Desert

Ash Grove at Spring Valley Ranch. Painted November 26, 2022 (after returning from the trip, based on a composite of travel photos).

Last week, I was in the suburbs of Las Vegas for a family wedding. I was excited to see the surrounding desert landscape, as I’ve never been to the desert! We didn’t have a ton of time outside of family activities and our ambitious stretch goal Grand Canyon trip got predictably cut (though I did see it from the plane window!), but I was delighted with our naturey day trips in the immediate area.

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What’s the difference between Nickel Azo Yellow (PY150) and Rich Green Gold (PY129)?

Top: Mission Gold – Green Gold (PY150), a Nickel Azo Yellow.
Bottom: Daniel Smith – Rich Green Gold (PY129).

Both of these golds are highly transparent and dispersive, and both are made from nickel. Nickel Azo Yellow is more of a yellow – warm and ochreish in masstone and cool and lemony in dilute – while Rich Green Gold is more, well, green! It looks to me like pickles. Both make more muted, naturalistic greens with Phthalo Green than a bright yellow would.

For my money, they have roughly the same role, so which of these should I pick for my palette?

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Color Spotlight: Cerulean Blue Genuine (PB36)

Da Vinci - Cerulean Blue Genuine
Da Vinci – Cerulean Blue Genuine

The color Cerulean, a light sky blue, is traditionally made from the PB35 or PB36 pigments. It’s a semi-opaque, granulating, green-toned blue with limited range of values, erring on the side of being light-colored. It’s nonstaining and highly liftable, making it a good choice for skies (if you like granulating skies). Personally, I usually like a less textured sky – but Cerulean has other uses as well, such as being a beautiful textured green mixer, and muting earth tones into cool, granulating browns.

Warning: Be careful to look at pigment numbers. Some brands, like Mission Gold, call their PB15 Phthalo Blue “Cerulean.” Don’t make the mistake I did when I first started painting, and get “Cerulean Hue” (from Da Vinci or any other brand), made from Phthalo Blue + white. PB15 is not the same color, and will not have the same granulation/magic/mixing properties.

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Preparing Colors for the Desert

My partner’s sibling is getting married near Las Vegas in a few weeks, and even though it will be a short trip and I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to paint, I’m excited to prep a new palette for a new biome (I’ve never been to the desert!) and to bust out some not-usually-used colors. 

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Artist Palette Profiles: Nikki Frumkin

My much less skilled imitation of Nikki Frumkin’s Eldorado Peak at Sunrise. HO Quin Magenta (PR122), LS Sunflower (PY74), HO Ultramarine Deep (PB29), DV Diox Violet (PV23), WN WInsor Blue (PB15:3), HO Iso Yellow Deep (PY110) on Arches Hot Press.

Nikki Frumkin, aka Drawn to High Places, paints dreamy, colorful mountainscapes that blend precise line art with bold, wet-on-wet color blends. I love this art (I have several prints!) and one the cool things about it is that Nikki doesn’t really seem to use all that many different colors! A bold, limited palette can seem endless in the right hands.

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Color Spotlight: Shadow Violet

Daniel Smith – Shadow Violet

Shadow Violet is a granulating purple-gray that’s made from a mix of three pigments: PB29 (Ultramarine), PG18 (Viridian), and PO73 (Pyrrol Orange). As such, close inspection of the seemingly unassuming shade reveals flecks of violet blue and blue-green as well as and underlying orange cast that make it more interesting than your typical gray, and mimics the overall effect of a real-life shadow with light and dark spots, color variety, and texture. John Muir Laws praises its beautiful granulation and suggests using it as a convenience gray for shadows in nature paintings.

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